Top Ten Tuesday – Unique

 toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I’ve Read

 

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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It isn’t even a regular novel. It’s transcripts and art and a story told in one of the most unique ways that actually worked to make the story better instead of just being a gimmick.

 

2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

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I love that there are scenes between the real story in which the boy is being read to. It adds to the story.

 

3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

 

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Palahniuk’s books ever. They are in a league of their own.

 

4. You by Caroline Kepnes

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The second person narration really sucked me in, plus it’s from the POV of a stalker, which is so fascinating.

 

5. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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An illustrated novel about a boy and a monster.. and I need tissues? What?!

 

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Virtual reality gaming meets dysfunctional future. It was unique, well done, and completely fascinating.

 

7. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

The series is written in whatever voice the main character is in at the moment. Uglies itself isn’t the brilliant book, but Pretties and Specials take the idea even further. 

 

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Aside from Dracula, I think this book was the first I’d read that was in a series of letters. I love the format and I think it worked well for Charlie’s voice. 

 

9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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A book where nonsense makes sense that was way ahead of its time. This book is the very definition of unique.

 

10. The Martian by Andy Weir

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I somehow thought I’d be opening up a space drama full of sadness because how else could one feel when he’s stuck on a planet by himself. But Whatney’s dark humor and sarcasm had me laughing. It was NOT a drama. It was such a hilarious and amazing novel that is completely unique. I love the crude humor, the shocking language, and Whatney’s arrogance and pop culture references. It was perfect. 

 

What unique books do you love?

Review – Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)

By Ryan Graudin

SummaryHer story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Wolf by Wolf was such a great book! The premise is what hooked me at the bookstore. I don’t read a lot of alternate history, but the idea intrigues me, especially when it comes to WWII. I love stories about Hitler, the Holocaust, and the various assassination attempts. 

This book rolled all of those ideas into one. In Wolf by Wolf, the year was 1956 and the Nazis won World War II. The Axis powers were ruling most of the world. Each year, the motorcycle race celebrated their victory. The year before, Victor Adele Wolfe stole her brother’s racing papers and entered the race as him and won. Instead of being mad, the Third Reich celebrated her victory. This year, Adele would compete again, but not as herself. Yael, a death camp survivor and experiment, had the ability to change her appearance. She studied Adele, practiced everything she’d need to know and do, and took her place in the race. If she won, she would be close enough to Hitler to execute him. 

The book took history and fact and morphed it into a thrilling alternate history story involving a little bit of fantasy, since Yael had such a unique ability. I loved the mixture and I loved being thrown into the chaos of the race. Yael occasionally thought about her past and we learned a lot about her as a character, her mission, and the importance of it all. We also got to know Adele, despite her not actually being in the race, because of the interpersonal connections between her and her brother, her and Luka, and even some of the other racers. Yael was a little out of her element because no amount of studying prepared her for the possibility that there were unreported incidents between her and the other racers and she had to struggle to maintain her identity and be believable as Adele.

I thought Wolf by Wolf was the perfect blend of history and imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to pick up the conclusion, Blood for Blood. I highly recommend Wolf by Wolf. It ends in a satisfying way so that I crave the sequel, but don’t feel like I got a cliff hanger ending or anything, which is always a plus. It was imaginative in a realistic way. Despite Yael’s ability, it felt like a believable story. I could tell the author was well researched based on the setting he weaved. And while it wasn’t the first book to pull off a What if the Nazi’s won the war train of thought, it was unique. The motorcycle race was fast paced and ruthless, giving a little grit to the story. It was well done and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Star 4

Review – In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

 

In a Dark, Dark Wood

By Ruth Ware

SummaryWhat should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

Source: I purchased a hardcover.

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Review:

In a Dark, Dark Wood kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It bounced from the past, the invitation to the cottage for a bachelorette/hen party, to the future, where Nora woke up in a hospital bed with a fuzzy memory. What happened at the hen party? Why were the police talking about murder outside Nora’s hospital room? Did she do something wrong?

I loved the suspense of In a Dark, Dark Wood and it was unlike a lot of thrillers because it didn’t feel like an over the top, this cold never happen type of scenario, nor was it the type of situation that made me feel like the main character made dumb decisions. I liked how realistic it seemed. It started with an invitation to Clare’s hen party (which seems to be the UK version of a bachelorette party) hosted by Flo, Clare’s best friend. Nora hadn’t spoken to Clare in a long time and it didn’t seem to end well, but the reader wasn’t privy to the details about what happened. Nora felt like the invitation might have been a mistake, but it only went to a handful of people. She was still in contact with one mutual friend, Nina, who said she’d also go. It seemed like a decision anyone would’ve made, especially out of curiosity.

The cottage was secluded, the cell reception was shoddy, and the dynamics were off between everyone, but it was from Nora’s POV, so that was to be expected. She was the outsider. I loved seeing her notice everyone’s interactions. The whole event seemed so weird, but not in a way that screamed “thriller novel” so it was believable to me. I notice dynamics between friends all of the time and it is sometimes super awkward to bring people together. And some people have friends who act like different people with different friends, so it just makes you feel weird being around your friend and watching her act like someone else. But Nora hadn’t seen Clare in years, so she was trying to figure out who everyone was and who Clare had become over the years.

It was obvious that something happened between Clare and Nora, and we slowly got a little bit more of the story. I couldn’t figure out why Nora was invited in the first place. And in the present, when Nora was in the hospital, I wanted to figure out what happened, who died, and why Nora was being guarded by police officers. What happened? How could this somewhat low key hen party turn into a nightmare for everyone involved?

I loved the book. It had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was happening. I loved that there wasn’t any info-dump, so I craved more pieces of Nora’s past. I wasn’t sure if I could trust Nora as a narrator, trust her friends, or trust the strangers in the house. It was nice not knowing what to expect and I was thoroughly surprised by the turn of events. I definitely recommend In a Dark, Dark Wood for any fans of thrillers!

Star 4

Review – All the Rage by Courtney Summers

 

All the Rage

By Courtney Summers

Summary: The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Source:I purchased a paperback.

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Review:

Warning: All the Rage contains rape, violence, and emotional turbulence. It’s not graphic about the rape, but I imagine it’s difficult to read for anyone sensitive to the content.

All the Rage was very well done. I think it will be compared to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and I don’t really think it’s the same, even if the content was similar. I think Speak is wonderful, but it doesn’t do the same thing that All the Rage does. Basically, even though they both deal with similar things, they do it in different ways and I think society needs both of these books for different reasons. 

I’ve never been a victim of sexual assault, so I can’t speak for how that feels or how much I can relate to the main character or if the events are realistic. But I am a woman and there is so much about All the Rage that made me just feel so raw and angry. I can’t imagine not being believed by people that are my friends. Because what? My family isn’t perfect? Because there’s no way a guy like that could hurt a girl like me? I don’t need to have experienced it to feel some of the outrage and the pain of that situation. What makes it even worse is that it was a guy she liked. A guy she wanted. A guy she could even be accused of chasing. But just because you like someone and dream about having a moment with them doesn’t mean you want to be forced into sex and I think that whole situation is just awful. I mean, I remember being into a guy or something in school and I wanted to catch their eye, get their attention, have them like me back, but not… that. I never wanted to actually get physical with anyone. And what if something like that happened and no one believed me? It would’ve been my worst nightmare. (Since I’m a married adult, I worry about this less and my fears have more to do with walking by myself in dark areas and that kind of thing, but not being believed is still one of my worst nightmares.) I actually did have rumors spread in high school that I could not stop, couldn’t refute, and I think people still think they are true to this day, so I get it. Everything that happened in the book is just so.. real. Rumors, bullying, family issues, small town grudges, cliques, rape culture… it was all there. 

Romy was a difficult character and I think a lot of people may find her frustrating and off putting. But I loved that she was so imperfect, still trying to move on and deal with her feelings. She felt like something inside of her was dead and she kind of acted accordingly. She just went through the motions, tried to get through school, and this layer of anger just seethed inside of her and exploded a couple of times. The dynamics at her school were awful, and that’s even after her rapist was gone and no longer a part of her social circle or school at all. Still, she was the liar, the girl who was always making stuff up, the girl who couldn’t say anything and be believed. 

I think the synopsis is a little misleading and I think some people expected Romy’s rapist to have more of a part in the book and for there to be more of a plot. I know I assumed someone else would be raped and then Romy would have to report hers or something to that effect and the book didn’t really go in that direction. I think for some, it could be disappointing, but I think I actually like the fact that the book was the way it was. It felt real, like the author wasn’t writing just to tug at my emotions or make grand points about rape or rape culture or anything like that. She did do all of those things, but in a way that felt honest and less contrived. It didn’t feel like she included this neat little plot wrapped in a bow like a lot of books involving issues. 

Romy felt so haunted in a lot of ways, but sometimes she’d make this remark that would sound awful, but it was kind of true at the same time. When her coworker’s sister was pregnant and didn’t know the sex of the baby, Romy’s immediate thought was I hope it’s not a girl. Which seems so awful and pessimistic, but it’s a valid thought. There was also this quote about how you can’t put a perfect golden girl in front of guys and expect them to behave and that really hit me hard, too. In a place where the sheriff’s son is untouchable, him and his buddies can get away with anything. She even mentioned how awful it was that we live in a world where we can’t accept a drink when we don’t know where it came from. It was those types of moments that made me stop and realize that even though Romy was being overly dark or pessimistic, she wasn’t really wrong and that’s the problem. 

I highly recommend All the Rage. My only advice is to expect less of a linear story that has a direct conflict or plot the way the synopsis describes and expect more of a book that deals with the aftermath internally.

Star 4

Top Ten Tuesday – Fandom

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 

Fandom Freebie 

 I don’t know that I consider myself part of any fandom. But I do like bookish merchandise and I acknowledge that a lot of the companies that produce them and the subscription boxes that include them and the love of the items themselves wouldn’t exist without fandoms and their amazing support.

So today, I’m going to list my 

Top Ten Favorite Bookish Merchandise Based on Stories

1. Millennium Falcon necklace (Owlcrate)

 

2. The Raven scarf

 

3. Slytherin Scarf 

 

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland bookmark (Owlcrate)

 

5. Game of Thrones coasters (Owlcrate)

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6. Funko Pop figurines

 

7. Wonderland Tea (Owlcrate)

 

8. Tolkien quote map (Quote and Quill on Etsy)

 

9. Classic Scratch off Poster

 

10. Arrow Necklace inspired by The Hunger Games (Owlcrate)

 

Bonus: I also love these amazing Hamlet leggings.

 

Review – Second Life by S.J. Watson

Second Life

By S.J. Watson

SummaryFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep, a sensational new psychological thriller about a woman with a secret identity that threatens to destroy her.

How well can you really know another person? How far would you go to find the truth about someone you love?

When Julia learns that her sister has been violently murdered, she must uncover why. But Julia’s quest quickly evolves into an alluring exploration of own darkest sensual desires. Becoming involved with a dangerous stranger online, she’s losing herself . . . losing control . . . perhaps losing everything. Her search for answers will jeopardize her marriage, her family, and her life.

A tense and unrelenting novel that explores the secret lives people lead—and the dark places in which they can find themselves—Second Life is a masterwork of suspense from the acclaimed S. J. Watson.

Source: I purchased a paperback.

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Review:

Second Life was a thriller with many twists, turns, and hidden secrets. Something told me that the book wouldn’t be as good as Before I Go To Sleep, mostly because I really enjoyed that and I figured it would be hard to top it. I was right. Second Life was good, but it didn’t wow me the way Before I Go To Sleep did.

Julia was married to a doctor, Hugh, raising her sister’s son, Connor, as their own. Everyone knew about the situation. Kate, Julia’s sister started making more and more requests to have him back, but Julia and Hugh didn’t entertain the idea. In a strange and suddenly violent incident, Kate was killed and it sent Julia a bit over the edge. She didn’t forgive herself for shutting her out and she really wanted to figure out what happened. So she started talking to Kate’s roommate, Anna, and logging onto Kate’s social media dating site thing and started talking to people on her friends list.

Julia’s life spiraled out of control as she gave into desires she didn’t realize she had and began a relationship with a stranger online that she originally hoped would lead her to details about Kate’s disappearance. 

I thought the book was full of unpredictable moments and the twists were pretty good. I loved the way it ended and all of the reasons behind everyone’s motivations. 

My only real complaint about the book was that I never connected with Julia as a character so I didn’t feel her loss of control and spiraling life as much as I would’ve wanted. Because the book was essentially about her spiraling out of control, not really being able to connect to her character kind of disconnected me from the experience a little and made the book feel a little less.. believable. I think part of the problem was the way her character was simply written, but another problem was the fact that her life was already kind of hanging on by a thread. Something happened to her in her past, she was a recovering alcoholic, she was afraid Kate would essentially snatch her kid and win that court fight, and her husband was becoming distant as she started to lose her control over the urge to drink. I mean, it was kind of a house of cards just waiting for a slight breeze to knock it over. Because her life was already rigid and fragile, the breakdown was a lot less.. emotional. And when things did start getting out of control, it wasn’t just a little thing that exploded her life, it was a ton of craziness that was almost too much. Because it would’ve taken a slight breeze to knock her life out of balance, the tornado just seemed a little over the top, if that makes sense. 

Still, Second Life was enjoyable, relatively quick to read, and certainly full of great twists. I recommend it if you happen to already own it or can snag a library copy, but I wouldn’t recommend intentionally seeking this out, and especially not if you’re hoping for something as good as Before I Go To Sleep.

Star 3

 

March 2017 Owlcrate Unboxing

March 2017 Owlcrate Unboxing

 

The theme of the March box was

 

Sailors, Ships, and Seas!

 

 

What was in the box?

 

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  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller with a signed bookplate, Owlcrate letter, and temporary tattoo
  • Compass pendant necklace by The Geeky Cauldron
  • Octopus notepad from Boygirlparty
  • Mermaid washi tape made by Simply Gilded
  • Hand printed tea towel from Kitch Studios  with quote: “a ship is always safe at shore but that is not what it’s built for.”
  • Owlcrate theme pin

 

 

Take a closer look:

The book:

 

As a navy wife, I absolutely loved the items. The tea towel is folded on my bookshelf, but I’m planning on framing it and putting it near my husband’s model pirate ship on my bookshelf. I love nautical themed stuff, so this box was awesome. I love the necklace. While the chain is a bit long, the actual compass and anchor pendants are so beautiful! 

Owlcrate has done it again and given me a bunch of stuff I can totally use and love!